Interview by Mayar Zokaei
Amir Heshmatpour is the rarest of immigrant success stories in America.
Millions of dollars in wealth? Check.
Various successful business endeavors? Check.
Private residence on Billionaire’s Beach in Malibu, California, home to business tycoons, entertainment moguls and other members of the world’s elite? Check.
A garage comprised of more than a million dollars in automobiles, including two Ferraris, and three Rolls Royces? Check.
Beautiful and Healthy Family? Check.
The truest measure of a man’s character – especially one who has anything and everything money can buy – isn’t simply his resilience in attaining his status among the world’s most affluent and successful individuals.
It’s what he desires yet to accomplish. Do his goals consist mostly of endeavors laden with the potential to amass more riches? Are his pursuits predicated on acquiring fame and attention?
Or, does he seek to reach a goal that would benefit mankind in ways others can’t even fathom? For Heshmatpour, the virtues of honor and helping others – ones that have guided him for his entire life – are the same ones that still burn inside him today. And it is these virtues that have driven him to seek the elusive cure for osteoporosis.
It is estimated that 44 million people in the United States over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. That number accounts for 55 percent of people aged 50 and older in our country.
Heshmatpour has a personal vendetta against Osteoporosis. Now, his pursuit of the cure for this prevalent ailment may prove to be a game changer in the entire global medical industry.
Javanan: Please tell us a little but about your involvement with UCLA’s worls renowned Anderson School of Business.
Amir Heshmatpour: I am very involved at UCLA Anderson. I have served on the Board of Advisors at UCLA ANDERSON Price Center for the past 5 + years.
I have seeded a fund at UCLA Anderson to support the efforts of the Anderson entrepreneurship students who are engaged in the Price Center’s Technology and Innovation Partners (TIP) program initiative or related programs, in which MBA students work with campus researchers in biotech and technology commercialization process.
The Primary purpose of this gift is to provide financial support, such as fellowships or similar assistance to the UCLA Anderson MBA students.
What made you make such a large financial commitment to them?
I believe a lot of good comes out of our amazing academia at UCLA and UCLA Anderson in this country.
There’s been an amazing amount of support and philanthropy towards the Endowment in Action at UCLA. I’m glad and humbled to be able to be a part of this amazing University.
Please tell us a little about your company, AFH Holdings.
AFH Holding & Advisory , LLC is a Family Office. We have a Advisory and a Private Equity arm to the family office. Most of AFH and H&H focus is on Opportunity Capital Acquisition Formation.
You are a shareholder in Nell-1, a drug from UCLA whose goal is to cure osteoporosis. Why are you so passionate about this project?
It would be amazing one day to look back and say I helped to cure Osteoporosis! To cure Osteoporosis is a big calling. My mother has Osteoporosis. A large number of people above 30 years of age have some sort of bone related issues. I believe we are onto something very major with Nell-1. Time will tell as we go down the FDA pathway.
We will see what happens! From my mouth to God’s ears.
Our UCLA Sciencetific founders have systematically tested small rodents with Nell-1 with NASA for Osteoporosis at the International Space Station this past summer. We are waiting on the results to be published sometime in 2018.
My partner Don Hankey and I are large shareholders in a small public company called Bone Biologics Corp, BBLG is the stock symbol. Bone Biologics has a license from UCLA Office of Intellectual Property and Industry Sponsored Research for Nell-1 for Spine Fusion and Bone Regeneration, Osteoporosis and Trauma addressable markets.
You live by the axiom, “Your network is your net worth.” Please tell us more about your business partners as well as the individuals who helm the research and development of the Nell-1 drug.
My partners are Don Hankey – who is a Forbes 400 Malibu Billionaire and the Chairman of the Hankey Group – and Jeffrey Rinde, partner at CKR Law Firms, with office in more than a dozen cities in the U.S.
We have three amazing scientific partners, all Harvard and MIT graduates. They Chair three different divisions of the UCLA Medical School. Dr. Chia Soo (M.D.) is the Vice Chair for Research and Research Director, Operation Mend at UCLA Health System Plastic Surgery; Dr. Kang Ting (D.M.D., D.MED.SC) is the UCLA Chair Of Division Of Growth & Chair Of The Section of Orthodontics; and Dr. Benjamin Wu (D.D.S., Ph.D.) is a professor and Chair at the Department of Bioengineering; Department of Material Science at UCLA.
I’m blessed to have these amazing people as partners and friends. It takes a good team to build great businesses. I play the long game and look at my partners like family. And I take my partnerships very seriously.
What does the future hold for you? Business wise? Personally?
In life nothing is more important to me than my family. I am looking forward to seeing my family grow together and all of us getting older and wiser. It is a joy to see the investment both my wife and I have made in our beautiful daughters come to fruition.
My business focus is always the same. Improve everything I have my hands in and do better than I did the previous year, while simultaneously creating lasting shareholder value.
Sounds simple, but it isn’t!
Finish this sentence: “I knew I had finally made it when…”
I don’t think as a businessman or an entrepreneur you have a safety net. You are always pushing and thriving.
Sky’s the limit. It depends what you see when you look in the mirror.
You attended Penn State University. Tell us about how you ended up pursuing your education there. Are you a big football fan?
I attended Penn State and dropped out of school when my father died of a heart attack at age 47. Being the only son I had to step into my father’s shoes to take care of my mother and 4 sisters. I moved to Seattle to take care of my family.
I’m a big Penn State Football fan. My childhood friend Fred Sahakian still lives is State College. I try to go see a game when I can.
Where did you grow up and how did you end up the in the US?
I was born in Tabriz Iran. My father Houshang Heshmatpour brought us to the USA in the late 1970s.
My dad was a businessman. He owned movie theaters and hotels in Tabriz. He was the largest movie theater owner in one of the largest cities in IRAN.
He was a great businessman! He had great foresight and common sense.
What advice do you have for the younger generation of Iranian Americans who are reading this worldwide? Personal and career/business?
Get the best education possible. Don’t rush to get into a business. Make sure you have good human capital around you. It’s all about the people you surround yourself with.
Play the long game because good things take time.
What do you like to do for fun?
Take care of Business! I love what I do and the people I do it with. As I have aged I have become more focused on business.
What made you decide to live in Malibu?
It’s Heaven on Earth. We love Malibu and we are blessed to live in such beautiful place.
What’s the biggest mistake people make when trying to climb the ladder of success?
What is it that you know now – but that you didn’t know then – that would’ve made your ascent easier?
There’s a lot I don’t know! Time, experience and wisdom all teach you that good things take time. Don’t rush, it’s not a race.
Do it once and succeed big if you can.
What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Stay in school and get the best education possible. More so today than ever before.
You have quite a collection of prestigious personal automobiles. Which one is your daily driver? Which one is your favorite?
I drive a Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG but my favorite cars are my two Rolls Royce Phantoms. Especially the Phantom Coupe.
Tell us about your family.
I’ve been married 28 years. I have three daughters. One is a junior in college, one a junior in high school and one is a first grader. I strongly believe in providing the very best education a parent can. My wife and I are also part of circle of giving at are daughters’ schools as well, giving both time and money whenever we can.
My daughters are my medicine. I’m 51 and having three daughters, one being just seven years old, sure makes life very sweet.
My family is my life.